Scales of Life

“From Molecule to Man”, or from “DNA to Disease”, two metaphors highlighting life as multiscale phenomenon, with a tremendously complex upward and downward causation between the scales. Making sense of this multiscale complexity is one of the many unsolved puzzles in understanding life. Add to that the interaction of an individual with its psycho-socio-economic environment, which strongly contributes to this complexity, and stipulates that the scales of life do not stop at the level of the organism but should include the environment. Can we then understand life as an emergent property of this compartmentalized multiscale complex system, and are these scales of life in turn an emergent property of the laws of nature? Moreover, can we understand disease as loss of robustness or resilience, tipping a healthy individual to a diseased state, or even death?

 We will bring together researchers from biology, medicine, physics, computational science, psychology, sociology, and epidemiology to address these questions, to reformulate them in such a way that they can be tested as hypotheses in experiments, and to further discuss the scales of life from a multitude of different perspectives.

Published by  UvA Institute for Advanced Study

22 May 2017